top of page
  • Writer's pictureKevin Fenix

ARSENIC AND ADOBO Review - Unapologetically American Filipino in the Best Way Possible

Arsenic and Adobo, by Mia P. Manasala, Cover

Arsenic and Adobo, the first book in the Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery series, is an audiobook that serves up a delectable cozy mystery infused with Filipino American culture. Authored by Mia P. Manansala, the story unfolds in a small-town setting and is narrated with vivacious charm by Danice Cabanela. It's a RUSA Award-winning novel that cleverly intertwines culinary delights, familial dynamics, and a dash of romance.

Sobra Filipino

The book shines in its unapologetic embrace of Filipino American culture. Manansala does more than just pepper the narrative with cultural references; she immerses the listener in the community's heart and soul. Cabanela’s narration beautifully complements this, her understanding and respect for the culture evident in her performance. The inclusion of traditional dishes, family gatherings, and the nuances of Filipino American life are presented authentically, steering clear of stereotypes.

The book excels in its honest portrayal of Filipino American culture, both the admirable and the challenging aspects. Themes of family, culture, and identity are woven throughout the narrative, offering listeners a glimpse into the complexities of the Filipino American experience. The story resonates with universal themes of love, loss, and finding one’s place in the world, making it relatable to a wide audience.

Plot Dynamics

The plot of Arsenic and Adobo is well-structured, with a pace that keeps listeners engaged without overwhelming them. The transition of Lila’s life from a rom-com scenario to a thrilling Agatha Christie-like mystery is seamless and well-executed. Manansala balances the elements of mystery, humor, and romance skillfully, creating a story that is both light-hearted and intriguing.

The characters in Arsenic and Adobo are distinct and dimensional. Lila Macapagal, the protagonist, is particularly well-crafted, with Cabanela bringing out her resilience, wit, and vulnerability in equal measure. The supporting cast, including the ‘nosy auntie network,’ is equally compelling, adding depth and humor to the narrative.


A standout feature of Arsenic and Adobo is its culinary focus. The story is not just set in a restaurant but also deeply rooted in the world of cooking and Filipino cuisine. This aspect adds an extra layer of enjoyment, especially for food enthusiasts. Cabanela’s narration, with her enthusiastic depiction of the bustling kitchen and mouth-watering dishes, enhances the sensory experience of the story.

And thankfully, the story is wonderfully told by the narrator. Danice Cabanela’s performance as the narrator is noteworthy. She captures the essence of each character with skill and subtlety, particularly excelling in delivering the various accents without veering into caricature. Her pacing is elegant and engaging, ensuring the story unfolds smoothly and keeps the listener hooked.


Arsenic and Adobo is a delightful and immersive experience. Mia P. Manansala’s story, brought to life by Danice Cabanela’s exceptional narration, is a celebration of culture, cuisine, and the art of storytelling. It's a cozy mystery that does more than entertain; it educates and enlightens, offering a window into the Filipino American community. Whether you’re a fan of culinary cozies or exploring new cultures through literature, this audiobook is a sumptuous treat not to be missed.

Arsenic and Adobo is a richly layered, cozy mystery that serves up a perfect blend of crime, cuisine, and culture, making it an ideal listen for those who enjoy their mysteries with a side of cultural exploration. I give Arsenic and Adobo a


Arsenic and Adobo is available in paperback, digital, and audio.


About Arsenic and Adobo

Arsenic and Adobo, by Mia P. Manasala, Audible Cover

Author: Mia P. Manansala Narrator: Danice Cabanela Series: Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery, Book 1 Publisher: Berkley/Penguin Audio Publish Date: May 4, 2021 Pages/Audio Duration: 336 Pages / 9 hours and 20 minutes SynopsisWhen Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She's tasked with saving her Tita Rosie's failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case.

With the cops treating her like she's the one and only suspect, and the shady landlord looking to finally kick the Macapagal family out and resell the storefront, Lila's left with no choice but to conduct her own investigation. Armed with the nosy auntie network, her barista best bud, and her trusted Dachshund, Longanisa, Lila takes on this tasty, twisted case and soon finds her own neck on the chopping block…


Are you into murder mystery books? Have you read Arsenic and Adobo? Do you consider listening to audiobooks reading? Let me know what you think in the comments or hit me up on social media @fenixnests.

6 views0 comments


bottom of page